Prior to Christmas, 2017, I was invited by ABC radio to give a brief Christmas message. In that message I used an Aesop Fable. Aesop tells the story of apes who found a glow worm shining on the bank and straightaway gathered round it to warm themselves. They placed sticks over it and tried to make a fire; but it didn’t burn. It was a very pretty thing and looked like a flame but they could not warm their cold hands with its cold light.
Sporting events come with post-mortems like those surrounding England’s loss of the Ashes. Wasn’t that great! Apologies to all the English reading this. If we were doing a post-mortem on Christmas could your Christmas look remarkably like Aesop’s fable? In fact, is life in Australia beginning to look like Aesop’s fable? As another year ended with festivities and the New Year began with fireworks are we like the apes gathered around a proverbial glow worm stoking it with high expectations that draw little warmth from a cold light.
For all those for whom Christmas didn’t live up to expectations and for whom the prospect of another year comes with doubtful expectations, I would urge us to take another look at Jesus Christ. He’s the fire that people often miss while distracted by glow worms. He doesn’t dress up in red and offer sage advice like “Yo Ho Ho.” Jesus promises nothing He can’t deliver. He doesn’t promise to entertain you. He offers no quack elixir to replenish your skin or perfumed attractant in a bottle. Despite the misrepresentations of Jesus, He doesn’t promise you wealth, He is not the genie in the bottle at call to satisfy our materialism. He is not a glow worm that can’t warm the cold by a cold light.
So, what does Jesus Christ offer for another year? Well, some would say not much. But the assurance of God’s love, the promise of God’s forgiveness, hope in the face of death and wisdom for daily living seem a whole lot more than not much. As so many Christmas expenditures prove disappointing, not a year goes by when love, forgiveness, hope and wisdom are not a daily necessity. It makes you wonder why we stoke the glow worms with expectation only to find chilled disappointment when Jesus Christ offers so much more to warm the heart, satisfy the mind and change things for the better.
Christmas may bring us to the manger but a whole year can come with mangy living. You can’t purchase an answer to mangy living. But from the manger of Jesus Christ, God offers a gift of love to forgive mangy living, wisdom beyond its manginess and a life with much more promise. And it’s an offer to all – colour is irrelevant, status is unimportant, male or female it makes no difference. God offers Jesus Christ, His only son to the world and for the world.
It would seem that the only ones who miss out on this gift from God are those too sophisticated for faith, too proud to admit their need, too compromised to allow for change, too arrogant to accept their faults, too busy with self to allow God space, too shallow and infatuated with glow worms to acknowledge the cold.
As we advance into 2018 it should be made known that there is a one who can warm even the coldest heart, cleanse us from our deepest sins and heal our brokenness. If your glow worm is leaving you cold let me invite you to converse with the Bishop on the warmth Jesus Christ can bring or just show up for church and ask them to tell you more about Jesus.